Quill and Quire

Canada's magazine of book news and reviews

Camp X

by Eric Walters

Eric Walters has dedicated his latest novel to the memory of Sir William Stephenson, the Canadian who headed British security during the Second World War and established a spy camp in Whitby, Ontario, in 1941. Stephenson appears in the novel as a genteel, high-ranking military official named Little Bill, but he plays a fairly minor role in the story. The main characters are George and Jack, adolescent brothers who stumble upon training exercises at Camp X and are fiercely warned away from the area by soldiers. Undaunted, the boys find themselves back in the path of counter-intelligence forces as they witness a trial run on the detonation of a bridge and get caught, once more, in forbidden territory. The suspense builds as the brothers become embroiled in the camp activities and lose sight of who in the town is trustworthy and who is out to stop their investigations for good.

Walters, an Ontario-based elementary school teacher who has written more than 20 novels over the past eight years, handles suspense very skilfully. Camp X is a page turner, and that, rather than its historical backdrop, is the real strength of the novel. However, Walters does list some of his sources for background on Stephenson and Camp X in the author’s note at the end of the book, and his narrative is interesting enough to encourage readers to follow up on those sources. The novel treats the subject of war rather simply, neither glorifying nor condemning it, but Walters clearly presents the Allied Forces as heroes and honours the veterans of that war in his dedication. Camp X is an absorbing read that may spark the interest of reluctant young readers.

Tags: Pierre Berton